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Oakland Raiders Tyvon Branch (33) celebrates after catching the ball for an interception in the endzone against the New York Jets in the first quarter at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011. (Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News)

The Raiders opted to place the franchise tag on strong safety Tyvon Branch, a move that is likely to have a trickle-down effect on the other side of the football.

Given his desire to be a No. 1 running back, not backing up Darren McFadden, it's now unlikely that Michael Bush will be back next season.

Teams are permitted to use the franchise tag on only one player, and it was likely the only way for the Raiders to keep Bush from being lured by the free agent market. Instead, Branch -- who enjoyed a breakout season in the Oakland secondary -- received that designation Thursday.

Branch posted 109 tackles and intercepted one pass last season. He started all 48 games the past three seasons and is a four-year NFL veteran.

"We are pleased that Tyvon will return to the Raiders in 2012," general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a statement. "Tyvon is a talented, productive player who we hope will be wearing the silver and black for many years to come. We will continue to work on a long-term deal to make that happen."

Phone calls to Branch's agent, Andrew Baker, and Branch were not returned.

Going the franchise-tag route guarantees Branch approximately $6.2 million for 2012 if he signs the one-year tender. The Raiders and Branch also are free to work out a long-term contract over the next few months.

It would have cost the Raiders $7.7 million to slap the franchise tag on Bush, which is slightly more than $2 million north of McFadden's base salary for 2012.


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Bush has said in the past that he wants a chance to be a starter and realizes that won't happen in Oakland as long as McFadden is on the roster.

Bush filled in for McFadden the final 10 games last season -- McFadden suffered a severe foot sprain in the Raiders' seventh game -- including starts in the last nine.

Bush rushed for a career-high 977 yards and showed he's capable of being a lead back in the NFL. There are several teams in need of a back of Bush's caliber.

McFadden is back to working out at the team's facility, according to new coach Dennis Allen. He and second-year pro Taiwan Jones are the primary running backs as of now, though it's conceivable the Raiders will add a veteran in free agency.